Highlights Of The Spring Session
Reaching Higher For Ontarians
During the spring session, the McGuinty government made real progress on its plan to strengthen the province by strengthening the education and skills, health and prosperity of Ontarians.
The Budget 2005: Investing In People, Strengthening Our Economy
The Budget continued to reach higher for Ontarians by investing in people to strengthen our economy and deliver the results Ontarians expect and deserve.
Reaching Higher In Postsecondary Education
The Budget announced the McGuinty government's action plan for colleges, universities, training programs and student support, highlighted by a $6.2 billion cumulative investment by 2009-10. This investment includes a $683-million increase in 2005-06, rising to $1.6 billion more annually by 2009-10.
This historic, multi-year investment in postsecondary education -- the largest in 40 years -- represents a 39 per cent increase compared to the 2004-05 funding base. With the Reaching Higher investments, the people of Ontario will see improved access and quality in postsecondary education and better facilities. Postsecondary institutions will also be held accountable for accomplishing these objectives.
Narrowing The $23 Billion Gap
The McGuinty government began narrowing the $23 billion gap -- the gap between what Ontarians contribute to the federal government and what they get back in programs and services.
In May, the Prime Minister and Premier McGuinty met to increase federal funding in a number of areas. The federal government agreed to commit $5.75 billion in additional federal funding over five years. This represents new federal investments in several of Ontario's priority areas.
As a result, Ontario will have more resources to invest in key services for Ontarians. And a strong Ontario means a strong Canada. The May agreement represents real progress, but there's more work to do -- to narrow the gap further, so we can help Ontarians go farther.
New Agreement On Immigration
New immigrants will benefit from enhanced services that will help them create a better life for themselves and their families here in Ontario, and the province's businesses will be able to better access the highly skilled and educated newcomers who choose to make Ontario their home.
Under the new agreement, average annual federal spending on settlement and integration services in Ontario will rise from $819 per new immigrant to approximately $3,400 per immigrant over the next five years.
Combined with Ontario's current investment of $107 million annually in settlement, language training and labour-market integration services, the new funding will allow newcomers to get the services they need to integrate successfully into Ontario's society and contribute to our future prosperity.
Reducing The Deficit
The McGuinty government has reduced the 2004-05 deficit by nearly half to $3 billion, some $2.5 billion less than what was inherited from our predecessors.
The economy performed better than expected. Our revenues -- particularly corporate tax revenues -- were higher. Our interest costs -- through better debt management and rates -- were lower. The government did not use the reserve and imposed strong fiscal discipline and management across government.
Other Investments In The Health, Education And Prosperity Of People
Success for Students
- Reduced class sizes in 1,300 schools with more to come
- Invested $126 million more to keep reducing primary class sizes, bringing the number of teachers hired to over 2,400 by September
- New provincial agreements with teachers and school boards brought peace and stability to schools as work-to-rule activities came to an end
- Good Places To Learn funding will support school construction, facility repair and renewal projects worth $4 billion over three years, benefiting over 1.5 million students.
- Announced the creation of 52 Family Health Teams and three networks of Family Health Teams to deliver better access to better care
- Continued to help reduce wait times by investing another $154 million to deliver 67,700 additional procedures in five critical areas
- Increasing the supply of family physicians by creating 70 per cent more family residency positions at Ontario's five medical schools by 2007-08
- Closed the Lakeview Generating Station, the single-largest source of air pollution in the GTA
- Preserved 1.8 million acres of greenspace as part of the Greenbelt Plan.
Strong People, Strong Economy
- Reached a tentative four-year collective agreement with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
- Increasing the supply of affordable housing by working with the federal government to commit $602 million over the next four years, assisting 20,000 households
- Launched a five-year, $30-billion infrastructure investment plan for roads, transit, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities
- Working with the federal government to finalize an agreement on a single corporate tax collection system to eliminate duplication.